NEW YORK Cliffs Natural
Resources Inc. ran a full-scale direct-reduced iron (DRI)
production test for two weeks in March at the companys
North Shore iron ore mine in Minnesota.
The Cleveland-based company
produced 30,000 tons of DRI-grade pellet and will continue to
test different methods using a variety of ore blends through
the rest of the year, chairman, president and chief executive
officer Joseph Carrabba said during an earnings conference call
with analysts. "We are working closely with the companies who
manufacture DRI facilities to conduct performance evaluation of
our DRI pellet samples."
Cliffs last year identified its
North Shore and United Taconite mines in Minnesota as having
the potential to produce DRI-grade products. "We found North
Shore at this point in time to be the low-capital-cost option,"
He told analysts that Charlotte,
N.C.-based Nucor Corp. has "led the way" with its planned
2.5-million-tonne-per-year DRI facility in Louisiana, which has
"strengthened peoples belief" in the financial viability
of DRI production.
Cliffs is talking to domestic
mills that could be potential customers of DRI pellet, but the
company still needs to work on test samples throughout the
year, Carrabba said.
"While we are optimistic about
our DRI technology and the long-term impact it could have on
the U.S. steelmaking industry, one concerning trend that we
continue to see is the surge of steel imports," Carrabba said.
"This is (affecting) the competitiveness of our customers, and
we urge Congress to support tax policies that would level the
international playing field for steel producers."
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister
publication Steel First.